I am uncomfortable with silence. There are probably a million little reasons, shards that reflect past experiences, which lead me to this discomfort when someone isn't talking. I could probably analyze it for days, digging through layer after layer, trying to figure out exactly what the root cause of this discomfort is, but it would still be the same discomfort with or without the deeper understanding of its presence. Even after an in depth analysis I would still need to do the same thing to overcome it, practice being silent. Just admitting it would be enough for me to start practicing to overcome it. Sitting next to me at a table, Kim Percival asked me if I was uncomfortable with silence. I admitted I was and started practicing.
I remember sitting in the desert on night and hearing the quiet calm that overtakes those spaces. It's a quiet that promises answers if you will just be patient and listen, because that same calm is listening to you, sensing you. Sitting at a table with Kim reminds me of that moment. She is calm and aware. Her eyes look right at yours, her hands glide through gentle movements as she illustrates her stories and yet, in every movement, there is a subtle question. She is going with the flow of her life, are you?
Her story is incredible. She studied bioengineering and theatre in college. She wanted to be an actress, to create, to be on stage, but she went to engineering to what was expected. Rather to what she thought was expected. Kim will be the first person to point out that the expectations in your head are yours, not from someone outside of you. You are the one who sets them for yourself, not others. She was very successful as an engineer of medical devices and later in the sale of those same devices, but it wasn't her purpose. She travelled around the country, married, had children and still didn't know what it was exactly that she wanted to be doing with her life, but she found it. Her purpose, to help others see how amazing this life really is. It's a purpose of service and love, incredibly powerful and fully authentic to her.
Authenticity is important to Kim. Not just in people, but in life. Make no mistake, she understands that following a purpose and a dream can be terrifying. It's terrifying most of the time, but it is also being true to one's self. As she tells me her story, I can see reflections of my own. I just couldn't quite find satisfaction in the things I was doing and no amount of success made them feel less empty. I just wasn't making the right choices for myself.
And then Kim Percival drops a wisdom bomb right on my head.
Many people who meet me note that, while I keep a notebook handy, I almost never take notes. I write from memory, but what Kim says to me has me opening the notebook and writing down this thought so I won't forget it.
Right and wrong are words of moral and ethical principles. Why then do we apply them to our personal life choices such as occupation? Kim uses powerful and not powerful. It relates to intention. You set an intention for you, for your life. Those things you do that help you realize that intention are powerful. Things you do that don't help you realize it, or might even be working against it, are not powerful. Applied to myself, with my intention being to tell stories, working at my previous job was not powerful. Quitting and beginning this journey was powerful. The terms right and wrong have nothing to do with it. My meeting with her ended around six hours ago and I am still unpacking this concept, and will be for some time to come. It will become a practice for me, using these words.
That's what life is, as I have learned from Kim, a series of practices. A practice for using powerful and not powerful. Another one for letting silence happen in a conversation. Practices are intentional and they take time. They are dedications to improvement and learning, but they must also be things that work for you. One size does not fit all.
Sitting with Kim it is easy to see how much she loves her purpose. It's in her words, her tone, her posture and her gestures. Kim radiates authenticity and ease. She follows the flow of her path, she doesn't fight against it. I leave looking forward to learning more from her, swimming in what I have already taken and excited for the surprises that will emerge as I marinate in this connection.
Connecting with Kim was powerful.
Favorite Dinosaur: Triceratops
Why: She remembers having a stuffed animal of one as a child.